Tag Archives: rest

A Stolen Moment

A few days every week, one to three of my older kids participate in a youth program on base. When I’m off, it’s a great excuse for me to park my butt at the nearby coffee shop and write. After all, I’m trying to finish off the draft of my NaNoWriMo project (50K words wasn’t enough for the story I had planned), and then I have fantasy book 2 to write…

Sometimes it feels like a constant “should” hanging over my head. I could be writing. I want to write more. I need to finish the next book, and the next one, and the one after that. I don’t want to waste my time flipping through Facebook and tapping through Twitter.

And yet, when I parked at the coffee shop yesterday, I noticed once again the stone benches placed between several banyan trees. I saw the sun shining through the clouds and the leaves. I heard the birds chirping out their warnings. I paused to sit and enjoy the moment, and then I tried to capture it in my journal.

On that page, I wrote these words, hoping to immortalize the memory for myself if no one else, and the moment of contemplation got me thinking about how many times I’ve passed that spot without stopping.

The things we want don’t come because we wish for them; they come because we work for them.

I recorded my thoughts and a reading of the text in my journal on YouTube here:

Here’s the text of my notes, in case the wind got in the way.

The branches and sections of trunk tangled and wound together like a four-year-old’s shoelaces…

roots like elephant trunks curling this way and that between octopus tentacles that poke through the waves of green grassy seas…

birds on all sides, singing the same few notes over and over, like someone with a song stuck in her head who can only remember one or two lines…

warm sunbeams cast long, cool shadows, and ants march across my pencil case in search of something edible…

cars drive by, carrying men and women on other business who will forever be oblivious to THIS moment, THIS time and space…

and I do not judge, for so often I have been likewise blind by necessity or obligation, forced to focus my attention on some other task, marching like these ants toward an unspecified but presumed-important goal…

All of us are pulled and twisted in many directions like the trunks and branches of these trees; all of us are motivated by unavoidable consequence to avoid “wasted” team and move with purpose to the next task…

But can I be cautious and conscious, careful to find here and there in life a moment and space like this?

Can I pause and be still, and listen to the world?

Though pulled and twisted by demands, can I sit like a tree, elegant in the pose like a dancer stretching upward?


Today is entirely unproductive.

I have been doing well on my diet and exercise plan. Today, I am sore from my first day out of my support boot on the foot that’s still healing. So I don’t feel like exercising. I also felt like eating a few more lumpia than I should. (Actually, I don’t know if diet and lumpia EVER go together.)

I wanted to write a bit on two story ideas, but the words aren’t flowing quite right and the ideas aren’t communicating the way I want. So I wrote two pages and stopped there.

My wife and I were going to go out and celebrate Mother’s Day early, on a rare dinner date. We both realized neither of us feel like getting out the door today.

There’s also that level of Candy Crush that has me stumped.

So I think today has become a useless “relax and play Warcraft” day. And I’m ok with that. It’s Saturday. It’s been a long week, and next week is going to be even busier than this one.

I went over the music for tomorrow’s church service.

I learned all about my wife’s FarmVille farms.

I hugged two of my boys close as we watched Despicable Me.

And I let the teenage daughter and almost-teenage son escape to go play with friends.

That’ll do, pig.


An Off Day

Sorry for the late FitnessFriday post.

Today has been a bit of an off day. I don’t mean a vacation. I mean crazy schedules.

Nonetheless, I still have to work out, so I walked into the gym today, feeling stiff and sore from my last workout, knowing I was about to make those same muscles cry once more. But I had a day to rest in between, so I had a chance to recover a bit.

That’s the kind of off day I want to talk about.

Last week, I recounted a mantra one of my favorite Spin instructors would repeat almost every class. “Your mind gives up before your muscles do. Be strong.”

I would always give another reminder at the beginning of class. “If you feel discomfort and soreness in muscles from being challenged, great. That’s where we want you to be. If you feel pain and discomfort in joints, stop pushing yourself. That’s not safe.”  Sometimes you get people who are new to cycling, or people who are so eager that they are pushing themselves too far beyond their present limits.

There’s a balance between these two statements, an comfortably uncomfortable and somewhat challenging place where you are pushing yourself beyond your present fitness level, while maintaining your overall health and wellness. You’ve got to be strong at times, breaking through the “I give up” in your mind. You’ve also got to be smart, able to identify when enough is enough for a day or two.

Your body needs time to recover, to adapt to everything you’ve done to it. Your muscles need to repair themselves so you can get stronger. This is of course why you see people rotating through major muscle groups when they go to the gym. “Today is legs, tomorrow is arms, next up is abs and core,” and so on.

Cardio exercise is similar. Repetitive motion with no recovery leads to those joint issues I mentioned earlier. Sticking to the same exercise over and over with no breaks is a risk to your body.

You’re not a robot. You need a rest day.

You’re not physically made for long durations of constant repetitive motion every day like some automated factory machine.

You’re not mentally or emotionally made for repetition either.

Give yourself a rest day from the menial tasks, the unending cycle of mundane labor. We are not made for monotony.  Take time to let go of the mental weight of responsibility now and then. If you’re in a position where playing hooky is not an option, like a single mom or a caregiver for a close relative, then see if you can at least coordinate getting a break from a friend who can help. You’ll come back fresh, renewed, ready to take on the challenges once more, stronger than you were before.

I’ve had coworkers who simply will not stop until all their tasks are accomplished, no matter how overwhelming. My friends and I have tried to explain our concerns, to no avail.

Discipline is great, but be smart about it. When you work constantly at a task – physical or mental – you begin to slow and tire out. You start missing important steps. Your form becomes sloppy, if it’s physical activity. If it’s mental, your product ends up with flaws. This all starts small but builds up quick.

A boss reminded me about this today:

“Slow is cautious, and cautious is fast.”

It takes time to do a thing right. It takes even more time to go back and fix something when you’ve made mistakes. In physical exercise, you risk hurting yourself and derailing your efforts to improve. In mental exertion, you may end up creating more work for yourself, or failing to accomplish the goal you set out to achieve.

Stop, catch your breath, grab a cup of coffee. Take some time off from that particular task. Then jump back in, ready to give it another shot.

You’ll probably have less of those chaotic off days once you schedule some restful ones.

God is the One v2

Sunday Psalm

Welcome back to God is the One, taken from the verses of Psalm 23.

Verse 2: He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

God is the One who gives me rest.

He makes me lie down. When everything else has me going constantly, God would have me stop and find a quiet place, lie down and stay awhile. I’ve got work responsibilities that compete with each other and make demands on off-duty time. I’ve got a wife that I want to spend time with in order to maintain our relationship. I also have four kids, and each of them are unique individuals with different needs. We have a great church that we want to cooperate with, so we’re involved in the music ministry. They’ve got weekly activities we want to participate in, too. But we’re learning about writing, so we’ve joined a writing group and a monthly critique group. And that’s not even counting all the video games!

God says, “Okay, stop. Take a minute and catch your breath. Rest.” That’s what Sabbath means. Rest is so important that God commanded His people to set aside an entire day for it. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, sometimes you need to take time to recover.

Grass. It’s what sheep crave.

God is the One who feeds me.

He puts me in green pastures. He provides me with sustenance. The food He gives is plentiful – there are whole pastures here. The food He gives is fresh and vibrant, green with abundant life. God gives the good stuff.

Consider references like Jesus speaking of doing His Father’s will as food (John 4) and David’s rejoicing in the value and power of God’s Word as his source of life (Psalm 119). What God provides may not always look like it will strengthen us or fill us up. Jesus ended up ministering at the well when all He wanted was a drink. But He found renewed energy, because He had food His disciples knew not of – doing the work of the Father.

I’ll even throw out there that God’s food is 100% all natural and organic. There’s no quick-growth hormone that turns us from spiritual babies into the next Billy Graham or Matt Redman. There’s no short-cut, no secret formula, no special ingredient that only the “in-crowd” knows about. Like the natural, a healthy spiritual diet means discipline, time, and effort. It means making good decisions day by day.

He’ll lead us there and provide the meal.

It’s up to us to eat.

…leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.            1 Pet 2:21 NASB

God is the One who leads me.

He leads me. I remember following my father or my brother whenever we had a deep snow. I would always try to step in their footprints in order to avoid getting snow in my shoes or boots. They carved a path for me to follow.And so it is with God. There’s nowhere we find ourselves that He hasn’t gone before us preparing the way. It’s like the Footsteps poem, in reverse. Step by step, we follow His lead, finding His footprints and trying (and often failing) to follow.

My relationship with my father and brother made it easy to follow them. I knew they knew where they were going. I trusted that I wanted to be wherever they were going, and I knew I wanted to be with them along the way. So it is with God. He’s leading, and He’s proven Himself faithful before. It’s my choice whether I’m going to trust Him with where we’re headed. It’s my choice whether I’m going to respond to His call to follow.

My seven year old tries to follow his older brother and sister all the time, and they immediately resist. “Get out of my room. Go away. Go play with your friends.” My brother sometimes felt the same way with me when I’d follow him. Rest assured, this is not the way it is with God. He leads, and He desires that we follow. He desires intimacy, but that’s a two-way street.

God is the One who brings peace.

He leads me to a place of stillness. In all the storm and chaos of the world around me, God is the One who can say, “Peace, be still!”

Sometimes this happens in the middle of the crisis. He supernaturally brings the answer to my prayer, the solution to my problem, and “immediately” the winds and waves cease. Sometimes, this happens in the natural order, and He leads me through the storm to a place of stillness in the aftermath. There’s not always a divine rescue. There is always a divine reassurance. “I am with you always. Be not afraid.”

As the deer pants for the waters,
so my soul longs for God, the living God. Ps 42:1

God is the One who satisfies thirst.

Nothing quenches thirst like water. All the other junk we drink still requires water to process, despite Coca-Cola’s efforts to convince customers otherwise. Sure, some things are less detrimental to your hydration than others, but nothing’s as good as water.

Other psalmists wrote about the longing in our hearts for God being “as the deer panting for the water” (Psalm 42:1). Then they ask the question, “When can I come stand in the presence of God?” (v.2). But it’s God who leads us, God who brings us to the place that satisfies our need and our desire.

“Plain old boring water” may not be the thing we want right now or the thing we like the most, but God provides us with what will accomplish His purpose in us. He has given us “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

God is the One who leads me to a place of peace and rest where I am well fed and my thirst is satisfied.